Cape Town firefighters to get increased protection after attack on 14 members

Plans have been put in place for the protection of firefighters following a violent attack on 14 crew in Kraaifontein, Cape Town, this weekend.

The increase in attacks on City staff members was highlighted during a briefing on law enforcement statistics on Monday.

Chief Fire Officer Ian Schnetler said that a female firefighter had suffered a hairline fracture to her arm after she was hit with a spade and wrestled to the ground by "young" members of the community in an incident.

"We are communicating with metro police and SAPS [South African Police Service] for protection, as firefighters are unarmed," he said.

"Unfortunately we can't cater for every eventuality. This makes it very difficult for us to protect communities who need help."

READ: Volunteer medics robbed at gunpoint in Cape Town

Increase in attacks on police officers

Firefighters would now make use of body cameras and protective smash and grab film would be fitted to fire vehicles, added mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith.

Schnetler said that there would be controlled public access to fire stations after the Gugulethu fire station was set alight in July.

He said that the station had suffered R500 000 in damages and 53 fire vehicles had been put out of action.

"We aren't the enemy. We are there to help and nothing else," Schnetler said.

READ: 'We cannot afford situations where we have no-go areas'- emergency services on staff attacks

Metro Police Chief Wayne Le Roux said that efforts to ensure the safety of metro police were also in the works.

Police officers had been advised to stay vigilant when off duty.

"They will no longer patrol on their own, and staff will double-up instead," he said.

"This means that we can only respond to half of the public's complaints."

Smith said that law enforcement had recorded a 180% increase in attacks on police officers in 2017/18. A total of 21 attacks in 2016/17 had increased to 59 in 2017/2018.

"Of course, these attacks have physical and psychological consequences. We have now hired a second trauma counsellor to deal with this," Smith said.

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